A proposal to introduce planning restrictions on short term lets and a 90 day per year letting limit for entire homes in Thanet on Airbnb did not reach the debate stage at Thanet council tonight (October 14).
The motion was put forward by Margate ward councillor Rob Yates who says he is concerned about the impact of Airbnbs on Thanet’s rental market.
In the motion, Cllr Yates said: “We welcome the majority of visitors to Thanet, who make an important contribution to our economy, but we hear residents’ concerns and wish to take action to control this serious issue which is damaging our community and damaging the reputation of Airbnb.”
He proposed an agreement for the council to try and introduce planning restrictions that affect short-term rentals, such as change of use regulations and asked for council leader Ash Ashbee to write to Marie Lorimer, the UK Public Policy Manager at Airbnb to request a meeting and seek to proactively introduce a 90 day annual limit for entire home rentals in Thanet within the Airbnb platform.
However, a vote to debate the proposals did not win enough support from councillors, meaning the motion was lost.
Cabinet member for Housing Cllr Jill Bayford said: ““The issues surrounding rented holiday accommodation in the district are complex and need to be looked at in detail. Tourism plays a vital role in the economy of Thanet and we need to be sure that any decisions that may impact on it are interrogated thoroughly.
“As we are not in possession of all of the necessary information to review the broader landscape, this evening we took the decision against debating the motion. This will allow us the opportunity to conduct an informed discussion, based on accurate data and involving the appropriate experts.
“We appreciate that housing is a very important issue to our local communities. We care deeply about providing genuinely affordable homes to rent or buy and our Housing Strategy (2020-2025) sets out a plan to ensure that everyone has access to a safe, secure, well-maintained and affordable home.
“Unusually for a council of our size, we are taking a lead in developing new and affordable homes and in the past 9 years we have provided 162 new affordable rented homes, and have funding in place for a further 28 homes. This represents a total investment of £43m in our development and acquisitions programmes. We are committed to continuing this work into the future, providing more affordable rented homes for local people.”
In response to questions from Independent councillor Ruth Bailey about the number of Airbnbs in Thanet and the possibility of introducing regulations, Cllr Bayford said Airbnb has 1,316 properties listed in Thanet but the whole house rental figure was not specified. She added that regulations were being looked at on a national level.
Prior to the meeting members of the Acorn Margate group held a demonstration outside the council offices in support of Cllr Yates’ proposal. The group said regulations would redress “the imbalance between short-term holiday lets and homes for the working people of Thanet.”